Thursday, September 10, 2015

Tesla: Value of Expectation

This article is WotC safe.
Last week, we introduced everyone to the plane of TeslaKaladesh, a new plane which debuted in Magic Origins. We also discussed the topic of expectations and the roles they fill in designing a set, and began brainstorming what Kaladesh brings to mind.

This week, we're going to discuss what these expectations of Kaladesh can do for us, and how we can use them to our advantage to give us a guideline for the set's structure and mechanics.

The big things you all expected from Kaladesh in a set were the following: filigreed artifice, secret natural mages, free-spirited outlaw artificers, and an oppressive consul conspiracy. These five expectations of Kaladesh are valuable because they line up with the expectations outlined in Pick and Choose. This is good! Before, we just had vague expectations, big nebulous 'themes' with lots of possibilities and contenders, but no real guidelines beyond that. Now, with Kaladesh in the picture, we have a real 'metric' to measure them by, in terms of how well the mechanics match up to the expectations of Kaladesh - so let's do that! Let's go over the themes, and what Kaladesh offers in terms of a metric for each one.

Art by Daniel Ljunggren
The first expectation of Kaladesh I'd like to discuss is of filigreed artifice, such as thopters and automatons, airships, and the factories and metropolises of Kaladesh. In all of these, we see the theme of Progress well represented. When people think 'progress' in steampunk, they think, factories robots, flying machines, and so on - and Kaladesh delivers on every one of those expectations. What Kaladesh does that is incredibly helpful is give us an aesthetic for progress. Progress is embodied by filigreed constructs, which are beautiful and omnipresent. This not only means we want our progress mechanic to interact with thopters or constructs in some way - it also means we want our progress mechanic to be vital to Kaladesh's identity and appeal, to feel beautiful and omnipresent. (Again, reaffirming how important Progress is to Tesla.) Much like how Awaken is a lynchpin for many synergies in Battle for Zendikar, perhaps we can capture the importance of progress to Kaladesh by playing the progress mechanic in a similar role.  We've discussed progress a lot, so I think the goal now is to use this rubric to identify the progress mechanic that best fits our goals.

Art by Victor Adame
Next, we have another vital idea - free-spirited outlaw artificers, which are the exemplars of the Innovation theme.  The Industrial Revolution was driven towards progress, but it was driven by innovation. Creativity, ingenuity, and discovery are what drive science and improvement, and so it's important that we capture these themes with Tesla.

Kaladash adds an interesting twist to innovation, however: on Kaladesh, progress and innovation sometimes stand opposed to each other. The consul drives Kaladesh towards progress, but Kaladesh is truly driven by its inventors. Kaladesh's approach is very nice, and portrays a dramatic relationship between progress and innovation. This means we want our innovation mechanic to feel radical and heterodox (AHEM CONTRAPTIONS AHEM), to feature the free-spirited artificers of Kaladesh, and to perhaps interact with progress in a profound manner. This isn't trivial, though - we've talked about innovation, the feeling of 'building something new', many times, but always faced some difficulties in trying to make mechanics that capture the feeling of 'combining' or 'creating'. (See: Integrated CircuitMomma Didn't Raise No RubeFile Sharing5 Ways to Position the Mecha Mechanic, etc...)

Art by Daarken
Lastly, we have the expectations of secret natural mages and an oppressive consul conspiracy. These are two expectations that fit with the expectation of Exploitation and Dominance. Kaladesh is a world build around this theme, as Fire Logic shows, so naturally it gives us a rich vein of material in this theme for us to mine. We'll probably want a mechanic for each side of this conflict - one for the secret natural mages, one for the oppressive consuls and their machinations. (The free-spirited artificers are also being oppressed, but their conflict is represented elsewhere.) For the secret mages, we know they can achieve magic without artifice, which is a great hint - a mechanic that doesn't interact with artifacts and feels very 'magical'. For the consuls, their mechanic should represent their methods - so we want a mechanic that represents surveillance, political control, or conspiracy. Lastly, the 'resource exploitation' theme can be represented with an 'aether canister' mechanic, giving us a much-needed singular 'resource' we'll be theming our mechanic around, rather than the nebulous concept of resources which we were previously attempting.

Art by Johann Bodin
Beyond these three "big" themes, Tesla already had a lot of expectations just from being 'the steampunk set'. The ones you guys noted last week that felt particularly important were ideas like vehicles and robotsno colored artifactsartifacts as tools and manmade creationsa powerful energy source with a price, and so on. Again, many of these are represented well in Kaladesh, which you would expect - Wizards of the Coast works hard to deliver on player expectations for sets. It's how Kaladesh represented these expectations, and the additional things they brought to the table, that we can use to our advantage.

Where once we had broad strokes, now we have specific targets. Kaladesh gives us a sort of checklist, a rubric to measure up our mechanics and proposals by. For example, instead of just asking 'does this mechanic feel like dominance?', we can now ask, 'does this mechanic feel like the consul's dominance?' This is an important part of the design process - we need to progressively narrow our sights if we're hoping to eventually hit a bulls-eye.

This week's discussion topic is simple - I'd like for you all to propose 'candidate mechanics' to represent Tesla's themes, while keeping Kaladesh's expectations in mind. In other words, suggest keywords or ability words which mechanically fit Tesla's themes, listed below in bold, and which simultaneously are a flavor-fit for the expectations of Kaladesh, listed underneath their relevant theme.

These candidate mechanics can be ones we've talked about in the past, or brand new - whatever you think fits Tesla and Kaladesh's expectations best! They don't need to be fully fleshed out - they can be something along the lines of "I think representing aether canisters as tokens that produce mana would be great."
  • Progress
    • Filigreed beauty
    • Thopters
    • Automatons
    • Vehicles (such as trains, airships, steamboats, mecha, etc.)
    • Factories
    • Metropolises
  • Innovation
    • Free-spirited outlaw artificers
    • Mad scientists
    • Voice of reason, ignored
  • Exploitation and Dominance
    • Oppressive consul conspiracy
    • Secret natural mages
    • Aether canisters with a terrible price
    • Ruling class with a lot of power
    • Exploited underclass who live in polluted slums
We'll be discussing the candidate mechanics you guys propose in more detail next week. The goal in the future is to pare down the list of mechanics generated to a reasonable number. Then, after we've selected a good starting 'palette' of mechanics to 'paint' our set with, we can move onto designing commons to begin playtesting in earnest!

I can't wait to see what you all suggest. Until next time, have a great week!


  1. Here's some of my own suggestions:

    I think Battle-Forged was an awesome mechanic for this theme, but it might not fit with Kaladesh's flavor, or Kaladesh's sense of 'progress.

    Advance (When you untap ten or more permanents, you become advanced) was an interesting mechanic, and I think warrants a little more exploration. People seemed to like it. It also captures the feeling of a 'paradigm shift' quite well.

    Lastly, there was Advancement and its ilk. (Advancement looked at the biggest colorless mana count in a permanent you controlled) These and other devotion variants are nice ways to look at the natural progress of a game, so we can consider them and try them out.

    These are the ones that float to the top of my mind, so I figured that if they stuck with me, I probably liked them the best. :)

    An 'artifact token' subtheme could represent the player creating constructs of their own. Possible artifact tokens include 1/1 flying Thopters, 2/2 Constructs, Equipment that give +1/+1 and cost 2 to equip, and Aether Canisters (Which produce mana somehow).

    Caring about artifact tokens - heck, caring about tokens at all - isn't really something we've seen before, so it probably fits the 'heterodox/avant-garde' part if we make cards that care about artifacts. Such cards could be flavored as upgrading/refining the player's creations.

    "Combining" artifacts definitely goes in this category. That's totally a sense of 'creation' and 'building', and it's really radical.

    It'd be wrong not to talk about "assembling Contraptions" here. I think a huge majority of players are going to expect Kaladesh to feature Contraptions. I know I am. I have some ideas about "assembling Contraptions" that we can discuss some point soon, if we decide to go down that road.

    Exploitation and Dominance:
    For the consuls, something that captures the feeling of 'surveillance' would be really neat. Perhaps Thopters could be a {W}{U} archetype representing the consuls spy networks?

    Another idea is to capture their 'conspiracy' with a 'network'-themed mechanic, like we discussed in File Sharing. Reflavoring Access as a bunch of secret agents or hidden machines working in unison, for example, could work. "Accessing the Machine" would be "Executing an Order" or something.

    For the secret natural mages, I think an instant/sorcery mechanic that "opposes" the themes of the rest of the set might be a nice idea. Look to Battle for Zendikar for inspiration - multicolored Converge and colorless Eldrazi are seemingly at odds, but in reality, play together quite well. Perhaps we could shoot for a similar relation between the 'natural magic' mechanic and another mechanic in the set.

    Lastly, for the aether canisters, I think the "Charge" mechanic we discussed a while back - which produces batteries that are sacrificed to untap a permanent - is a perfect fit. Alternatively, we can have the tokens make colorless mana. Then we have the issue of finding a way to make them interesting, though, since Eldrazi Spawn already exist...

    I think it's important that the aether canisters feel like they have a 'price', but I'm not sure the mechanic itself should feature that 'price'. I think we can communicate the 'cost' of aether canisters through the cards that have the mechanic. E.g. they all have 'As an additional cost to cast ~', and/or a flavor of siphoning/extracting/exploiting, and/or something else.

  2. As much as I hate to say it, morph seems to fit a few of the mechanical aspects you described. :/

    Facedown colorless creatures "blend in" with colorless artifacts (Ghostfire blade) and can obviously represent the "hidden resistance" or "natural magics" in disguise.

    Actively turning a creature face down can be used as a tool of homogenization by the system/government.

    Unmorphing can represent building up/ingenuity.

    Ugh. I can't believe I'm proposing morph.

    Aside from that, initial thoughts on canister tech leads me towards rebranding Gold tokens.

    1. I like the idea of rebranding Gold tokens. Definitely serves to differentiate them from Spawn.

      I find it hilarious that the consul's tool (turning creatures face-down) is terrible against the one people they want to use it on (the natural magic users). That's so great.

      It's good for gameplay, too. Flavorfully, they are at odds - consul wants to turn things face-down, natural mages want to start face-down then turn face-up. Gameplay-wise, the consul's ability to turn things face-down works really well alongside the natural mages wanting to repeatedly use their morph triggers.

      I'm not sure how we can use unmorphing to represent 'building up' - can you give an example?

      What would a face-down morph in this world represent? A generic citizen?

    2. Building up/improving would be the flip. As long as the front is better than a 2/2 vanilla, it can't help but represent progress.

      What's more beaten down and subdued than a face down 2/2 with no name, type, color, or abilities?

      Employment Sentence 1W
      Enchantment- aura
      Ench cre
      Etb- turn ench cre face down.
      Ench cre can't be turned face up.

    3. Iunno, I just feel like a 2/2 to something bigger is too 'binary' a form of progress. And it only works on creatures.

    4. I would have to agree. Morph itself isn't necessarily the answer. Some tweak similar to manifest (or like devotion was to chroma) would have to be carved out.

      Basically, the face-down tech we already have meets a lot of your goals. I think exploring that area would be a decent place to start.

    5. Yeah, perhaps. We can talk about it for sure.

  3. Also, I forgot to mention - vehicles and mecha seem to be a big expectation for players, so perhaps we could include a mechanic along the lines of the following:

    Appearing on Artifact - Vehicles...
    Board COST (COST: Target creature you boards this vehicle as long as you control it. Board only as a sorcery.)
    Creatures aboard CARDNAME get BONUS.

    1. A creature would only be able to be aboard one vehicle at a time.

      If a creature leaves your control, it is no longer aboard any vehicle you controlled. You'll have to board it again.

      To have a creature switch vehicles, just pay the board cost of another vehicle and target the creature you want to switch. Much like how switching Equipment works.

      In general, this is pretty much reverse-Equipment.

    2. FWIW my is the closest I've come to rules for vehicles I like :)

    3. Jack: It works, but I don't want vehicles to be creatures on their own. It doesn't make sense for an unpiloted ship / artifact to be bandying about alone.

    4. I don't really see a way to make vehicles distinct from equipment if they only allow one passenger at a time.

    5. Agreed, Lee. That's why my mechanic has no limit on the number of creatures that can be on it. Like I said, reverse Equipment - any number of Equipment can be equipped to one creature - any number of creatures can be aboard one vehicle.

    6. Not saying I like this better than reverse-equipment, but:

      Kit {3}
      Artifact Creature-Vehicle
      Whenever ~ attacks, creatures you control gain menace until EOT.

      Zeppelin {5}
      Artifact Creature-Vehicle
      Whenever ~ attacks, creatures you control gain flying until EOT.

      Siege Column {4}
      Artifact Creature-Vehicle
      Whenever ~ attacks, creatures you control get +1/+1 until EOT.

  4. Been having some Great discussions on the custommagic IRC about potential mechanics:

    [b]Consuls[/b] need to feel like an oppressive UW society maybe with a touch of B to represent corruption etc. It relies on the system, surveillance and restrictions to enforce its idea of progress.
    In my mind I think this is the perfect time to bring back the Justice Mechanic that has appeared frequently as an Azorius mechanic.
    This creates this perfect sense of restriction and that fighting the consuls should be like. It also captures the "shared network" aspect that Access the Machine attempted because of how breaking 1 law triggers multiple justice triggers.
    I worry a little about the common designs but I think we can work it out.

    Mindwatch Thopter 3
    Artifact Creature - Thopter (C)
    Drawing more than one card per turn against the law.
    Justice — At the end of each turn, if an opponent broke the law, that player reveals his or her hand.

    Consul Flamehunter 1W
    Creature - Human Soldier (U)
    Dealing noncombat damage is against the law.
    Justice — At the end of each turn, if an opponent broke the law, creatures you control gain lifelink until the beginning of your next end step.

    Suppression Sphinx 4UU
    Creature - Sphinx (R)
    Controlling more than three creatures is against the law.
    Justice — At the end of each turn, if an opponent broke the law, gain control of target creature that player controls until Suppression Sphinx leaves the battlefield.

    [b]Aether Canisters[/b] and other artifacts need to feel like a resource that can fuel spells. In combination with recent discussions I've been having on the custommagic reddit I've designed the following:

    Recharge [Cost] (You may cast this from your graveyard for its Recharge cost if you sacrifice a noncreature artifact.)

    This would allow us to then have Aether canister tokens that either act like gold tokens or untap artifacts but can also be used to Retrace your spells with Re-iterate. Recycling other old artifacts or equipment for their Aether fuel is also the other option to make the mechanic far more flexible and less parasitic.The noncreature part is also for developmental reasons.
    I imagine this mainly on Instants or Sorcery cards but it could be on other things at higher rarities.

    AEther Torch 1R
    Sorcery (C)
    AEther Torch deals 3 damage to target player.
    Recharge R (You may cast this from your graveyard for its Recharge cost if you sacrifice a noncreature artifact.)

    Artificer's Genius 4U
    Sorcery (C)
    Draw two cards. If you cast this from your hand, put a Aether Canister artifact token card with "Sacrifice this: add one mana of any color to your mana pool." onto the battlefield.
    Recharge 5U (You may cast this from your graveyard for its Recharge cost if you sacrifice a noncreature artifact.)

    We had a few more suggestions but these two are the most polished.

    1. I wonder if Recharge could be artifact creatures rather than noncreature artifacts so that you can't sacrifice moxs, darksteel citidel etc.

    2. Minor wording change of Justice to make any laws broken on the end step still trigger using werewolf tech.

      Consul Investigator 2U
      Creature - Human Wizard (C)
      Casting spells during combat is against the law.
      Justice — At the beginning of each upkeep, if an opponent broke the law last turn, draw a card then discard a card.

    3. Keeping it as noncreature artifacts makes for a more interesting and restrictive archetype in Limited. It also helps us push noncreature artifacts as a theme, which is a great way to differentiate Tesla from Mirrodin and Esper.

      I'm not worried about Moxes and Citadel. Citadel means losing a land play, which is even more severe than Retrace - and Moxes are a concern only for Vintage and Legacy, which we have no reason to worry about. (Don't design around those formats, IMO.)

      Recharge definitely looks cool, and it's a great flavor way to make Aether Canisters matter more. I like it.

      Justice is interesting, but I still have yet to see a common that really convinces me. Most of them feel a little complicated and inelegant. I think we need three things to make it possible:
      1.) Have the 'sentence' match the 'crime' more
      2.) Find a way to address the board complexity of the mechanic

      I think, again like Rebound, that we could just keep Justice largely out of common. A few common cards to make the archetype possible, of course, but most of the cards would be at higher rarities. This means we've had to worry about the board complexity less, and gives us more wiggle room for 'sentences' and 'crimes'.

    4. I like Justice as a concept, and it seems to fit the totally-not-oppressive-but-actually-kinda-yeah vibe the consuls are going for, since any given Justice card is going to overpower certain decks and be blank against others.

      Is the flavor disconnect of YOU repeatedly breaking the law without penalty intentional?

    5. I posted a bunch of common designs in the imgur album below + created a lot more so I think the commons are certainly doable. But really you only need like 5-6 of them at common.

      Also it isn't a flavor disconnect. Its just how the system treats the privileged (aka you.)

    6. Ugh, I love justice.

      I assume it would only appear in white and blue? Maybe black? I see it as a white blue archetype, though it will take concerted effort to make sure it doesn't just bog down the game with "I can't do anything so I'll do nothing". That would be miserable.

      Three commons? And the rest uncommon or higher with a UW uncommon to support the archetype?

      I also prefer upkeep checks like werewolves so that if someone does something at the end step, justice still sees it. It also allows for some interesting wording like the following cards (aka you only have to break the law once during your whole turn to get penalized):

      Consul Cleric 3W
      Creature - Human Cleric (C)
      Having more life than you is against the law.
      Justice--At the beginning of each upkeep, if an opponent broke the law last turn, you gain 1 life.

      Consul Secretary 3UU
      Creature - Human Advisor (C)
      Having more cards in hand than you is against the law.
      Justice--At the beginning of each upkeep, if an opponent broke the law last turn, draw a card.

      Consul Soldier 1W
      Creature - Human Soldier (C)
      Dealing combat damage to a creature you control is against the law.
      Justice--At the beginning of each upkeep, if an opponent broke the law last turn, put a +1/+1 counter on Consul Soldier.


      Consul Field-Marshall 3UW
      Creature - Human Soldier (U)
      Blocking creatures you control is against the law.
      Justice--At the beginning of each upkeep, if an opponent broke the law last turn, tap target creature that player controls. It doesn't untap during its controller's next untap step.

      And a rare because why not:

      Resistance Subjugator 5WU
      Creature - Human Sphinx (R)
      Having four or more creature types among creatures you control is against the law.
      Justice--At the beginning of each upkeep, if an opponent broke the law last turn, choose a creature that opponent controls. Creatures opponents control can't attack or block unless they share a type with the chosen creature.


    7. I agree that breaking the law shouldn't stack. I find the gameplay that encourages funny - "Well, if I have to break the law, I might as well break ALL the laws." :P

      We definitely want to keep the mechanic from being oppressive. We also want to make sure that the mechanic doesn't interact with too-narrow of 'crimes' - stuff like blocking, for example, is good because it's universal to most games.

    8. I'm not sure how difficult it would make to balance, but I'd be curious about making Justice triggers even more consistent. What if (for instance), every white trigger was "At the beginning of your upkeep, if an opponent broke the law since your last turn, put a 1/1 ac Thopter token otb" and every blue was "...draw a card, then discard a card." Or even "...draw a card."

    9. Pasteur: I was considering the same thing! The problem I envisioned was that I'd prefer if the 'sentence' and the 'crime' felt flavorfully related, but that's a lot harder to do if all the 'crimes' are different but the 'sentences' are the same for each color.

    10. For Justice cards, the outlawing conditions like "dealing noncombat damage is against the law" seems kind of narrow and seem to be sideboard cards rather than something to build a strategy around.

      I like Ben's suggestions like and "Blocking creatures you control is against the law." because it's more like a direction to build your own deck around rather than an attempt to punish the opponent for something he or she might not do.

      "Having four or more creature types among creatures you control is against the law."could be a deck-building direction too if it affect all players rather than just opponents (which may or may not be the way to go).

      The effect that you get for most of these enforcer-type dudes for could be something like "This creature gains double strike until end of turn" or "This creature gets +3/+3 until end of turn." They would be whacking the enemy as punishment for breaking the law.

    11. Many of the Law effects seem very narrow as I noted above. It might be interesting if each card didn't come with a pre-defined law and allowed you to fetch a Law card instead. The Law cards would be like token cards or emblem cards, except you can choose which one to fetch out of the ones you've drafted.

      That would allow players to choose the prohibition that would matter the most in the situation.

      As for the confusion of tracking many Laws, maybe there can only be one Law in place at once. Maybe the Law card has the text, "as this enters play, sacrifice all other Law cards you control" like the Enchantment World cards of old.

    12. I kind of like the idea of having multiple laws, so that it becomes harder and harder not to break one. Kind of like Curses (the Brian Tinsman game which is awesome if you haven't played it).

      Actually, thinking about Curses more:

      No Riots 2WW
      Enchantment (U)
      Blocking creatures you control is against the law.
      Justice--At the beginning of each upkeep, if an opponent broke this law last turn, sacrifice No Riots. If you do, tap each creature that player controls. They don't untap during their controller's next untap step.

      Two major changes here:
      1) They now only look at their own law.
      2) By sacrificing them, we can make the effect bigger while also making sure it's not oppressive turn after turn.


    13. Sorry, No Riots should be blue and white, not just monowhite.

      Also, I changed Consul Soldier's law from "Dealing combat damage to a creature you control" to "Dealing combat damage to Consul Soldier" which feels way more common.

    14. The idea of fetching laws from outside the game is interesting - and I must say, I like the idea of joking about 'passing a Law' in draft :D - but something important to keep in mind is the allocation of resources in a set.

      The primary goal of this set is to be fun - the secondary goal is to represent Kaladesh - the tertiary goal is to represent steampunk. With Law tokens, we're certainly meeting the second goal, but are we meeting the first and third?

      Some mechanics warrant a lot more resources simply because they're worth it. By 'resources', I mean not only time spent refining the mechanic, but also things like "A type of card that is guaranteed to show up in every pack", or "A new type of card". For example, double-faced cards PERFECTLY represented the change, tension, and tropes of Innistrad. It was a hole-in-one, which is why they were willing to sink so many resources into it. They had one show up in every pack, and they had a checklist card show up often.

      But this Law mechanic only represents one relatively inconsequential facet of Kaladesh. The consuls can be represented by many other possible mechanics, and perhaps don't need a mechanic at all, but just a very flavorful archetype in Limited. The proposed Law cards are interesting, but they aren't particularly fun for the other player, nor are they fulfilling that many goals for our set. Thus, they're probably not worth complexity and resources such as "This card shows up in every pack" that could be better spent on another, more vital mechanic to Tesla.

    15. Law-keepers that sacrifice themselves upon prosecution of a crime seems kinda flavor-weird, but the gameplay works. I wouldn't want to do it on creatures, though.

    16. Not attacking during your turn is against the law.

      Not casting a spell during your turn is against the law.

      Creating a law is against the law.

      Just Bolt {1}{R}
      ~ deals 2 damage to target c/p. If that player or that creature's controller broke the law since your last turn, ~ deals 4 damage instead.

    17. I think Law-Justice seems like it could be a fun mechanic, but I have to agree with the resource drain/fun ratio. I think it might be better suited flavorfully to the next visit to Fiora, and mechanically to a supplementary product.

    18. My original version of justice/law has a fairly low resource cost except tat its very slightly parasitic. I agree the "fetching laws" idea that Chan suggested is maybe a bit much for what is only gonna be a Consul subtheme.

      If it is fun or not is a different question and something we would have to playtest rather than theorycraft.

    19. Yeah I do agree that the original idea has a low resource cost, I was specifically talking about Chah's suggestion. Sorry if I was unclear.

  5. An album of stuff from a recent IRC discussion as well as a few ideas from my Revolution duel deck

    1. The current version of Revolution only affects other Revolution cards, but I think it's ideal if it can mesh and tangle with other cards in the set and change how the game plays in that way. (Although I know a set can also have a healthy dose of Sliver-like mechanics as well.)

      In the case that we want the mechanic to tangle with the rest of the set, maybe the Revolution card could put a +1/+1 counter on each creature you tapped and they become Revolutionaries? In that case, it could also just care about the creature having a +1/+1 counter rather than having a Revolution label. (Maybe it's been suggested already?)

      The Revolution mechanic has several interesting aspects to it:
      1)You get to do a game-changing thing exactly once per game.
      2)You tap your creatures together to show they are working together.
      3)It makes your creatures stronger.

      However, I think it's possible to just take the "do something once per game" aspect and maximize it without necessarily having the other aspects.

      For example, the effects of these Revolution cards are that they boost the creatures taking part in the revolution. But a Revolution also changes the existing world order, so fetching an enchantment-like effect in the form of an emblem card or a token card (that you can choose, like the Law suggestion above) could also be another way to show a Revolution.

      For example, "Noncreature spells cost 1 less to cast. Creature spells cast 1 more to cast" or "Creatures can't be blocked by creatures with greater power" would feel like the world order was changed by the revolution.

      In this version the focus would be on the "You get to do something big and game-changing exactly once" factor and it doesn't need to be about tapping creatures, boosting creatures, or even necessarily be on a creature card. (I'm not sure if that's the way to go, I'm just suggesting the possible varieties.)

    2. So, Chah, I think it'd be helpful if you posted an example card of what you're going for. I think I see what you're saying, though.

      I agree improving or involving creatures isn't necessary, but I think it'll go a long way to making the mechanic more interesting and impactful. However, in Tesla, if we're doing something like reuben's Revolution variant we do face the issue of it feeling quite a lot like a French Revolution, not an Industrial Revolution. Still, I doubt that's an insurmountable issue.

    3. Yes the Revolution mechanic was originally designed for a French Revolution inspired Duel Deck so its not a perfect flavor fit.

      Note that changing the triggering mechanic from the tap two additional creatures can g a long way to changing the feel of the mechanic if you want to reflavor it.

      Also Chan note that the current version "switches off" if you kill all the revolutionaries which is both an important gameplay and flavor point as it gives your opponent a subgoal of trying to stop the revolution similar to the "cast two spells" minigame inbuilt into werewolves.

  6. Vehicles
    Three ideas for Airships.

    Corong Airship 4
    Artifact Creature - Construct
    Crew (At the beginning of combat, you may tap two untapped creatures you control.)
    When CARDNAME attacks, if it was crewed, it gets +4/+4 until end of turn.

    Or, if we want them to be noncreatures when empty:

    Pressgang Airship 4
    Artifact - Vehicle
    Crew (At the beginning of combat, you may tap two untapped creatures you control.)
    As long as CARDNAME is crewed, it's a 4/4 artifact creature with flying.

    Combining two old ideas for showing "piloting":

    Single-Pilot Thopter 3
    Artifact - Equipment
    Equipped creature is a 3/2 creature with flying.
    Crumple (If equipped creature would be destroyed, destroy this instead.)
    Equip 2

    "Crumple" is a placeholder name, but illustrates the idea pretty well. You can even build-your-own Regenerate... though that's probably too cute.

    Lead-Lined Refrigerator 1
    Artifact - Equipment
    Crumple (If equipped creature would be destroyed, destroy this instead.)
    Equip 1

    And my best interpretation of "rickety steamboat".

    Mooring Steamboat 4
    Artifact Creature (c) - Construct
    Crew (At the beginning of combat, you may tap two untapped creatures you control.)
    ~ doesn't untap during your untap step.
    When ~ is crewed, untap it.

    1. You can imagine creatures that support crewing with abilities like

      Daring Cannoneer 1W
      Creature - Human Rogue
      When Cannoneer becomes tapped, target creature gains first strike until end of turn.

      (Lifelink, deathtouch, trample, etc.)

      These abilities incentivize attacking - without an airship to board or another artifact to operate, it's the only way to turn them "on". But, if you have a vehicle that can be crewed on offense or defense (since you opt to "crew" on either combat), you can make a beefy first-striking blocker. Together, these things make what your crew is matter, and also help the gameplay be quite different from Exalted or Battalion.

      For P/T setting equip-vehicles like Single-Pilot Thopter, on the other hand, the supporting creatures/pilots could have interesting saboteur abilities but be under-powered/lacking evasion. The gameplay would be mixing and matching "abilities that want to get through" with "interesting evasive bodies", while still being open to the gameplay of "this is an equipment with totem armor", meaning we can make a linear theme without being just-parasitic.

    2. I really don't like Ships being creatures. It just feels weird for a ship to be doing stuff on its own with no other creatures.

      I like Crew. It's a simple but unique idea. I think it could easily go toe-to-toe with my Board suggestion above. Mine is really simple, but perhaps too simple - the comparisons between it and Equipment are unfavorable. Meanwhile yours is more unique, but perhaps more complex of an idea. I do like how yours interacts with tokens and smaller creatures better, though - a very nice spin!

      Crumble is not good as a straight-up downside. I could see it as the totem armor variant - indeed, someone in IRC suggested that last night - but to me, "Equipment" just does NOT bring to mind the idea of a vehicle. It's too far of a stretch.

      So, TL;DR: I like Crew. Let's get some critical comparisons between it, Board, and some other contenders.

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  8. I don't think a mechanic about Innovation necessarily needs to be Innovative in itself. Here's my thoughts about innovative mechanics:

    I don't think a set about Steampunk needs to be avant-garde. Every Magic world is a fantastic new world to be discovered and should feel new and fresh in some way. It doesn't matter if it's technologically advanced or not; if it's a world about DInosaurs or a world about Fairy tales, it should also have something new.

    For the most part, I think what matters is that the game play is new. As long as the game play is new, the cards don't need to have blazingly new text under New World Order. But I also think that for PR reasons it is nice if there is something that does look blatantly new, and these can initially excite players during spoiler season, while the new gameplay (which might not look new on the surface) is what holds the players' attention. But that blazingly different thing might not even be a mechanic; it can be something like the full art Land cards and the buried treasure campaign in Zendikar.

    As for whether a mechanic about new things needs to be new in itself - they don't need to line up symbolically like that.

    For example, to think of it the other way, if there is a mechanic is about tradition, boringness, or conformity, should the mechanic itself be boring to symbolize that?

    The Law mechanic above as well as the "turn face down to show homogenization" mechanic are pretty avant-garde, but that doesn't disqualify them as mechanics about conformity. How new/old the mechanic is doesn't need to match up with how new/old the subject matter is; just because the mechanic is about conforming to tradition, we don't need to make it a traditional ability like "Target creature gains conformity (that creature gets -7/-0)."

    I think a mechanic about Inventing things should ideally make players feel "Wow, I just invented something new inside of the game!" (The mechanic allowed the player to be innovative.) We all know the wonderful feeling of getting creative and making something original that works. That is difficult enough to achieve and we should take whatever that works for that. It is also a nice bonus if the player feels "Wow, this mechanic is really new!" (The mechanic itself is innovative) but that isn't necessarily even a related feeling (this one is more about the game designer being creative and has nothing to do with whether the player was creative or not creative). These feelings don't need to be generated by the same mechanics.

    I do see that these two things are going to line up naturally; a mechanic that allow the player to feel inventive will probably require out-of-the-box thinking anyways. But I feel that doing something avant-garde shouldn't turn into a goal in itself; it should be a means to achieve whatever gameplay we want for the set.

    1. Inanimate, I think your idea of fetching stuff from outside of the game is awesome, and I'm not opposing those innovative mechanics with the comment above. (actually, I've had that idea too). But the comment that "tokens matter" can be an avant-garde thing for Kaladesh feels to me like a drive for really abstract newness rather than a particular feeling of newness that recreates the feeling of inventing; it seems like the intention is a symbolic link of "this is a new mechanic in the game of Magic, so it will feel like a world where people are innovative" but if that is the intention (I'm not sure it is), it's too abstract a link for me.

    2. That's pretty close to my intention, yes. I was meaning that I wanted the player, when playing with the Innovative mechanic, to make them feel "Wow, this is something I've never done before. This is new and cool." I know, as a player, I always love playing something that FEELS different than anything else I've ever played. It's cool to experience something wholly new. I think if our 'innovation' mechanic can capture that same feeling, that'd be great. I'm not saying we need to do 'Future Sight' style innovation - because "Wow, the first enchantment token ever!" isn't really that exciting for players - I'm saying we should go for more exciting and visceral innovation, like Rise of the Eldrazi or Theros, which felt wholly different from Magic that came before.

      In many ways, though, I was proposing we also have a symbolic link of creating 'a new mechanic thus an innovative world', and I totally agree with your arguments against this as a priority. I don't think this should be the priority for the Innovation mechanic. The #1 priority is for it to be fun. The #2 priority is for it to make players feel like THEY - not the game of Magic, but THEY THE PLAYER - are creating something new and different. The #3 priority is for the mechanic itself to be new and different.

    3. I agree that 'artifact token' theme just doesn't quite cut it in the innovation department. I was too focused on the designer form of innovation, and fell straight into the "Wow, the first enchantment token ever!" kind of innovation. Sometimes it's hard to separate my designer-excitement from my player-excitement, I must admit.

  9. I also like Advancement. As discussed by others before, it works best with artifacts but can work with anything else. Civilization doesn't advance steadily and automatically over time like clockwork, but through the invention of new tech like cars or radio, and this has that feel.

    I also like the Battery Tokens that untap things as a sorcery.

    1. "Civilization doesn't advance steadily and automatically over time like clockwork, but through the invention of new tech like cars or radio, and this has that feel."

      Totally true. This should be something we keep in mind. A mechanic that just requires waiting seems like a very poor representation of what progress means. It should have excitement, anticipation, uncertainty, and hope.

  10. A version of the linking artifacts proposed before:

    Serum Gadget 1
    Artifact Equipment - Gadget (Common)
    Equip another unequipped artifact or creature: 1
    T: Gain 1 life.
    Whenever equipped creature or artifact becomes tapped, gain 1 life.

    - It represents people wearing gadgets in Steampunk worlds.
    - It can interact with combat as you equip it on another creature and try to attack with it to get it tapped.
    - You can create a Rube Goldberg contraption with these by daisy-chaining cards like this.
    - I wish it could just say "Equip a creature or an artifact" but we don't want several Equipment to all be Equipping each other as it would be confusing. So it only Equips something that isn't already Equipped by another thing.
    - I wish it could say "Whenever equipped creature or artifact is tapped, untap this." But it may be confusing to watch someone tap and untap stuff repeatedly with a daisy chain. It's easier to follow if the ability just triggers immediately, and it's easier to balance if the thing can only activate either once or twice per turn.

    Another way to word Gadgets:

    Skull Augmentation Gadget 1
    Artifact - Augmentation (Uncommon)
    1: Attach this augmenting another unaugmented artifact or creature.
    T: You lose 2 life and draw a card.
    Whenever augmented creature or artifact becomes tapped, you lose 2 life and draw a card.

    So you can have fun forming a combo with this and the first one, and it matters which order you wire them together.

    1. While I've never really liked the jury-rig mechanics - they just don't excite me at all - I do have to admit that keying off of tapped and being able to attach to creatures makes them more interesting.

  11. There could be a card-searching mechanic to represent the act of invention. They could help any "combine 2 cards" mechanics be achievable, without filling up the whole set with those cards. It should be something that isn't blatantly powerful/variance-killing as straight-up tutoring.

    Visionary Inventor 1U
    Creature - Human Artificer
    Whenever ~ attacks, exile the top card of your library into a Vision pile.
    U, Sacrifice ~: Put an Artifact card from your Vision pile into your hand.

    Inventor's Vision 3U
    Draw two cards. You may put two cards from the top of your library into your Vision pile.
    Then, if there are 8 or more cards in your Vision pile, draw another card.

    Immediate Plans 2R
    Exile 2 cards from your hand into your Vision pile. Draw 3 cards.

    Nature Shaman 2G
    Creature - Elf Shaman
    When ~ enters the battlefield, put 2 cards from your the top of your library into your Vision pile. You may put a land or creature card from your Vision pile into your hand.

    1. There's potential to this, but right now it seems very directionless and too broad. Let's try to find a singular thing that the Vision pile is used for, and let other uses for it come about naturally.

      This is a TERRIBLE example, but it'll get my point across:

      Envisioned (Reveal this unrevealed card from your hand: Put the top card of your library into your vision pile. This card costs {1} less to cast for each card in your vision pile that shares a card type with it.)

      See how this has a primary usage, but by introducing the concept of a 'vision pile' to the game, other cards can manipulate that vision pile as well? Something like that. (There's REALLY OBVIOUS problems with this mechanic, but ignore those and focus on the idea behind it. I'm NOT seriously proposing this mechanic.)

    2. Visionary Inventor 1U
      Creature - Human Artificer
      When ~ ETB, Brainstorm Artifact (Exile the top card of your library. You may put an artifact card you own from exile into your hand.)

      Inventor's Vision 3U
      Brainstorm(Exile the top card of your library. You may put a card you own from exile into your hand.)
      Then Brainstorm again.

      Act on Impulse {2}{R}

      Nature Shaman 2G
      Creature - Elf Shaman
      When ~ ETB, Brainstorm Creature or Land(Exile the top card of your library. You may put a creature or land card you own from exile into your hand.)

    3. Interesting idea, Jay. It's definitely a unique form of card advantage. It just doesn't seem to do a lot for the set, beyond the flavor it has. It doesn't feel much like innovation or progress.

    4. It doesn't feel like innovation?

    5. Well, to me it doesn't. I think innovation needs a sense of creating something new and unique each time you play it. This mechanic is very cool, but doesn't quite tap into that emotional space.

      It certainly is innovative from a normal viewpoint though - it gets you new stuff that you didn't have before.

    6. I think not every mechanic about innovation needs to do something new every time - some of the mechanics can show creatures being innovative (making a Thopter token for example) while other mechanics can allow the player to feel innovative.

    7. There needs to be some way to differentiate cards exiled with this mechanic from other exiled cards. (Hence the Vision pile. I wanted to name it the Idea pile but a Vision pile could work with Natural mages too.)

      It shouldn't fetch any exiled card, since there are cards like Arc-Slogger or Doomsday that exile your library as a cost or a risk. If any exiled card can be brought back then it would require making a "Move target exiled card to the 'really removed from play' zone" card.

    8. Chah: Yeah, that's true that not every mechanic about innovation needs to have the player feel innovative. I just noticed it in case Jay's proposed mechanic was trying to have the player feel innovative.

      However, if we're trying to have a mechanic for consuls, natural mages, innovation, progress, and vehicles... that's already five mechanics, no? We're going to be running into space issues. I'd prefer our innovation mechanic to be both portray innovation and feel like innovation, rather than having two separate mechanics that prioritize one half.

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    10. My intent is that you gradually "research" more and more cards and eventually fetch some of them. But if every one of these cards fetched a card, that may be too much card advantage so I think many of them should have other effects, such as "gain you 1 life for each card you exiled with this mechanic," etc.

      I guess it is unfocused. It's inspired by the Ingest mechanic in Battle for Eldrazi, which also has each card do something different with the exiled cards. At least with Ingest, exile-milling the opponent has inherent meaning (although the cards with Ingest would clearly kill the opponent with damage before milling them out). I was hoping naming the exlled pile would give it a sense of purpose. (I also considered "Research Pile.")

    11. Something like this could be the smoothing mechanic of the set. This also reinforces the progress theme. (Adding more cards to your Research pile is progress.)

      I think having a "research" mechanic like this can actually help with space issues. Each linear compartment in the set doesn’t need to be huge to guarantee critical mass, if there is a way to search for them.

      Something like this could be a glue that makes different parts of the set tangle with each other.

      Also, I think a mechanic that makes players feel they did something innovative might be complex and mostly be at higher rarity with just a few Commons. I think it's ok to have a workhorse mechanics for lower rarities that just portrays the plane's denizens being inventive, although it's ideal if a low rarity mechanic can do both.

      I don't think all of the factions need to get a keyworded mechanic; in Innistrad not all the monsters had a keyworded mechanic although they each had a mechanical identity.

    12. AC Bolt {1}{R}
      ~ deals 2 damage to target c/p.
      Theoretical {R} (You may cast ~ from your Research Pile for {R})

    13. Possible Land Bridge {1}{G}
      Exile 3 cards from the top of your library to your Research Pile.
      You may put up to one land card from your Research Pile OTB tapped.

      Multiple Possible Futures {1}{U}
      Draw two cards. Then, exile two cards from your hand to your Research Pile.

    14. Chah: Yeah, I agree that not all the factions need a keyworded mechanic. For example, though there have been some nice proposals, I'm thinking the natural mages might just lean towards an archetype rather than a mechanic.

      I like the idea of the vision pile as a progress and smoothing mechanic (though smoothing mechanics are less-needed in the days of evergreen scry).

      I prefer designs like Possible Land Bridge. Designs like AC Bolt - which mention the vision pile but have no way of getting there - seem really unappealing to me. Cards like Multiple Possible Futures - which put things in the vision pile but don't otherwise interact with them - seem much more acceptable.

      These are all good points, Chah. I do tend towards being a little high-concept with my mechanics, so keeping me grounded is appreciated.

    15. I'm thinking about design space with the vision pile. I don't think we want cards that care about the quantity or qualities of cards in your vision pile, because this would conflict with cards that bring out cards from your vision pile.

      So, this leaves us with:
      1.) Tutoring cards from your vision pile.
      2.) Playing cards from your vision pile.
      3.) Possibly caring about what enters the vision pile. (If an artifact entered your vision pile this turn...)
      4.) Caring about what leaves your vision pile. (If an artifact left your vision pile this turn...)
      5.) Putting things in your vision pile as a 'cost'. (Seen on Multiple Possible Futures).

      And I can't think of much else, to be frank. I'm not so sure that 3 or 4 really have that much design space.

      How much space, then, is there in 1, 2, and 5? There's probably enough to make a mechanic. Probably.

      This mechanic is increasingly reminding me of Peek, by MOON-E, which is a mechanic I found neat.

    16. I don't think it's a problem to have cards that count your Research pile size alongside cards that fetch cards from it, since I imagine each card with this mechanic will put 2-3 cards into the pile on average but only a few of those cards will actually fetch something from that pile (since it will be too much tutoring otherwise). The setback from the fetching will be negligible.

      For example, even if I have a creature card in hand that says "When this ETB, gain life equal to the size of your Research pile," I can activate another creature's ability that says "Sacrifice this creature: Fetch an Artifact card from your Research Pile" and not feel torn in two directions.

    17. Perhaps, yeah. I'm probably worrying too much about that. I disregarded the option too offhandedly - we should definitely playtest it and see how it goes.

  12. I'd like to repost Tinker which I posted before:

    Tinkerer 3W
    Creature - Human Artificer
    When this enters the battlefield, tinker (Put a +1/+1 counter on another target creature, or put a 1/1 artifact Thopter creature token with flying onto the battlefield.)

    Another Tinkerer 2R
    Creature - Human Artificer
    Whenever you cast an Instant or Sorcery spell, tinker (Put a +1/+1 counter on another target creature, or put a 1/1 artifact Thopter creature token with flying onto the battlefield.)

    Tech Scavengers 4G
    Creature - Human Rogue (Uncommon)
    Whenever ~ deals damage to a player, tinker that many times. (Put a +1/+1 counter on another target creature, or put a 1/1 artifact Thopter creature token with flying onto the battlefield.)

    Scrap for Parts 3R
    Destroy target artifact. Tinker.

    I think a +1+1 counter-placing rider mechanic can create the right feel for the play environment: things are always growing and being improved upon. Every card has a chance to be augmented. It's a free rider effect so you don't have to worry about card disadvantage. But unlike something like Bestow, you grow things a little at a time, many times over the course of the game.

    I think it's fun to choose whether to put a +1/+1 counter on your 1/3 deathtouch, 1/1 flyer, or 3/3 trample guy. However, so far I haven't enjoyed cards like Timberland Guide where you choose to put a counter either on itself or another creature. Timberland Guide to me feels like "This is a 2/2 that you can shrink to pump something else" and that is a stressful choice. I want my newest addition on the board to matter AND to get a free rider +1/+1. That's hard to balance if the creature is allowed to give itself +1/+1. So Tinker only targets another creature.

    In case you don't have another creature to target, you can also make a Thopter token. Thopters are probably something people have come to expect from Kaldesh.

    I would be bummed if something simple like this was the only mechanic representing Steampunk tech in the set because it doesn't let you get super creative, but if there's another mechanic for that then it would be ok, at least in my view.

    1. I still like this mechanic a lot! It's a really nice level of symmetry and it seems very exciting.

      I'm curious whether a format could support a lot of this mechanic, though. Also, this mechanic doesn't fit into a lot of colors, unfortunately. Green doesn't make fliers; red and blue and black don't really buff other creatures. This means this mechanic is pretty much solely in the realm of white and artifacts.

      We could make this feel more red/blue if it was more focused on artifacts - for example:

      "Put a +1/+1 counter on (another) target artifact creature, or put a 1/1 colorless Thopter artifact creature with flying onto the battlefield."

      In this case, if you don't have an artifact creature, you can just make the Thopter. It'd be nice if this could add charge counters as well, like so:

      "Put a +1/+1 counter or charge counter on target artifact, or put a 1/1 colorless Thopter artifact creature with flying onto the battlefield."

      I don't think that first sentence is good enough, but it may be alright for reminder text.

    2. Ah, to be clear - very exciting from my viewpoint, as a designer looking for mechanics. :P Though I think the mechanic will play very well, much like the Thopter-creators in Origins seem to, I'm not sure it's gonna excite many players who read it. Who knows, though?

    3. We could also do something like:
      Air Parade 2W
      Put two 1/1 Thopter artifact creature tokens on to the battlefield.
      Reinforce 2W


      Call for Backup 2W
      Put two +1/+1 counters on target permanent.
      Deploy 2—2W (2W, Discard this card: Put two 1/1 Thopter artifact creature tokens on to the battlefield.)

      Reinforce could go on any of the colors it did last time; you could even making a scaling vertical cycle of Thopter/Reinforce in White, though it's not the most exciting or overly flavor-fitting of returning mechanics.

      Deploy could probably go in any nongreen color; if you want to feel like you could be ambushed by the consul's floating spies at any time, it'd probably be pretty effective.

    4. Note that I'm not a super fan of Reinforce. It often feels life two super underwhelming choices compared to kicker mechanics like Awaken which have a solid effect or a solid effect + an awesome effect if you pay more.

    5. Tinker sounds like fun. I love that you're placing a glass bead / die / whatever regardless, but either on a creature or as a creature.

      Here's my concern: What color would a spell be whose only rules text is "Tinker"? Green usually gets first-dibs on +1/+1 counter mechanics, but never flying. Blue would be my first choice to make thopters, but that color gets +1/+1 counters last. The 'another target creature' part makes it hard to justify black which is decent in both growth and flying. Red could get away with it. I guess. White is a strong choice, for sure.

    6. Yeah. Putting it on artifact creatures definitely helps sell it for blue and red. Black and green wouldn't really get the mechanic at that point. White's an easy sell for the mechanic no matter which variation we go with.

    7. I think +1/+1 counters are allowed in every color. Pasteur makes a good point that Reinforce was in every color.

      I agree with Reuben that I want it to be a free rider. At least for this set I want +1/+1 counters in smaller amounts each time but more often over time, and as a free rider effect.

      As for Thopters, I don't think it is a problem to have 1/1 flyers in Green as a world-defining bleed for this set (like New Phyrexia had "You opponent loses 1 life" in every color).

      I like the idea of having a 3rd option if it can fit, especially charge counters.

  13. Musings on the 'natural magic' mechanic:

    There's two possibilities here.

    1.) A creature mechanic that makes them feel like spellcasters, not tool-users. For example, a mechanic that interacts with / involves activated abilities? The benefit of this is that it lets us portray the fugitives as creature cards, featuring their mechanic. The negative is that finding a way for 'creatures' to represent 'spellcasting' isn't easy.

    2.) 'Natural magic' as an instant/sorcery keyword makes a lot of sense, and is very flavorful, since the player is a planeswalker who also cast natural magic. The problem with this version is that fugitive creature cards wouldn't feature their mechanic, but would have to find other ways to interact with their mechanic.

    I think 'natural magic' would probably be G/R, if I had to pick a color combination, so that's another point in 'creature mechanic's favor.

    Another problem with a 'natural magic' mechanic is that it's just... normal magic. On this plane, that's something special, but on other planes, that's just the norm. That seems tricky to represent. Is it even something we need to represent, then? Could we just have creatures flavored as fugitives, rather than giving them a mechanic? Is it just something in the flavor, that doesn't need to be represented in the set's structure as a whole?

    What do you all think?

    1. We might also consider things to omit/limit to show this plane's current environment is "limiting natural magic" (and to affect different gameplay.) I doubt we could omit auras, but we could, for instance, limit Auras to G and R? It would probably have to be heavy-handedly flavored, and we'd have to set up parallels/differences between artifact equipments and nonartifact auras, but even if we did that, you run the risk of... players not noticing that something is missing unless they look at the comprehensive spoiler or do X number of drafts.

      One way might be to make creatures that can do interesting things, but rely on artifacts, either to activate their abilities, or give them the evasion they need to attack, or just "activate this only if you control an artifact", though that's kind of disappointing. Some synergy between an everpresent artifact in the set (1/1 Thopters? Untappy canisters? A third kind?) and some high-profile abilities... it's a nut I haven't quite cracked. DTK did a pretty good job of showing "dragon-powered magic", and I feel like there must be a clever equivalent for the mana-deprived feel we might try to push.

    2. Pasteur: Mm, both are good ideas. One problem I see with the first suggestion is that auras don't need to be magical in flavor, so I feel like restricting Auras to G/R might remove a lot of flavorful concepts we come up with for other colored Auras.

      The second idea, though, is very good - the key is just finding that 'artifact limitation'. Artifact mana is one possibility, but it's a very weird one that would require a big part of the set to be designed around it. Another possibility, as you mention, is just checking whether you control an artifact, but as you said, that's disappointing.

    3. Well having aura's only enchant opposing creatures in blue and white could fit the Consul flavor while green only gets self buffing auras. This plays into themes of not trusting too much power to certain individuals etc but rather trying to use the system to bring down those who outstep their bounds.

    4. What about a set with no instants/sorceries? It would be odd, but a harder challenge has been accomplished (only creatures) and we've got artifacts and enchantments to help. Bold moves.

    5. On that note, what about introducing the "slow" symbol? We've talked about it from time to time, but the simple indicator that means "as a sorcery", riding on abilities? This would be about as good of a flavor reason as any to introduce it. Not exciting on its own, but a way to balance out some things that could be exciting, maybe.

    6. The all-creature set was possible because morph allowed for bluffing and combat tricks, and there were other sets in the block that had instants/sorceries to make up for the missing numbers. Even then, I'm not sure how fun it was to play.

      A set with no instants/sorceries certainly can replicate many of their effects on the game - such as unknowns in hand - but I'm not sure that it's worth the many losses the set would suffer as a result. The backflips needed to replicate their effects - such as more cards with flash, or abilities like Glamer (seen below) - just don't seem worth the flavor.

      Also, I'm not sure how many players would be able to interpret instant/sorcery absence correctly.

    7. Oh, so you don't like Glamer. I see how it is.

      No. Seriously. Why not an artifice vs arcane mechanical theme? Artifact vs Enchantment. Tinker vs Glamer or what have you.

    8. Legend: It's not that I don't like Glamer, I actually think it's fine. The problem I was noting is that Glamer is fine as a mechanic, but NOT fine as a replacement for instants in a set.

  14. The Justice mechanic is awesome. It was proposed for [RVC] Azorius by TurboJustice last winter 2014. (Whom also gave proper credit to Detektor.) It was well received, but eventually knocked for being considered too complicated in numbers because they fed off of each other. They’re like Slivers on crack.

    My “solution” for that issue is for identical laws to be redundant.

    It makes sense because if four people witness a thief steal one item, the thief is charged with one count of theft, not four. But if one person sees a thief steal four items, the thief is charged for four counts of theft, not one.
    (I realize this statement isn’t legally proper, but you get it.)

    So, if I control four Tax Collectors (below) and an opponent gains life, that opponent hasn’t broken the law four times, just once. So there isn’t an exponential infraction of the law, just one instance of a law being broken, so each Tax Collector will get only one +1/+1 counter (not 16 or w/e it would be).

    If I control two Criminal Investigators, two Court Marshals, and two Tax Collectors, and an opponent gains life, I’d draw one card, return one creature to its owner’s hand, and put one +1/+1 counter on each Tax Collector.

    I don’t imagine the following cards are amazing. I never did finish them. They’re just intended to spark imagination.

    Criminal Investigator (Common)
    Creature – Human Rogue
    It’s against the law to block Criminal Investigator.
    Justice - Whenever any of your laws are broken, you may draw a card.

    Court Marshal (Common)
    Creature – Human Soldier
    It’s against the law for your opponents’ creatures to fight.
    Justice - Whenever any of your laws are broken, you may return target creature to its owner’s hand.

    Tax Collector (Common)
    Creature – Human Advisor
    It’s against the law for your opponents to gain life.
    Justice - Whenever any of your laws are broken, put a +1/+1 counter on Tax Collector.

    Azorius Ancestor (Common)
    Creature – Spirit
    It’s against the law for your opponents to cast spells during your turn.
    Justice - Whenever any of your laws are broken, untap all creatures you control.

    Captain of the Guard (Uncommon)
    Creature – Human Soldier
    It’s against the law for opponents to target creatures you control.
    Justice - Whenever any of your laws are broken, put a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control.

    Rules of Engagement (Uncommon)
    It’s against the law for your opponents to cast spells during combat.
    Justice - Whenever any of your laws are broken, you may copy target instant spell. You may choose new targets for the copy.

    Military Detachment (Rare)
    Creature – Human Soldier
    It’s against the law for creatures to attack you or a planeswalker you control.
    Justice - Whenever any of your laws are broken, put a 1/1 white Soldier creature token onto the battlefield.

    Azorius Law-Writer (Rare)
    Creature – Vedalken Advisor
    It’s against the law for your opponents to destroy permanents you control.
    Justice - Whenever any of your laws are broken, destroy target permanent.

    1. (Hi Legend! I go by Inanimate here. :D )

    2. legend if you look at the version I proposed above it delays it until the end of turn and only checks once. Thus it gets most of the anti-stacking benefits you proposed but also means you can make the justice triggers stronger as you limit them to once per turn.


      Patrol Droid 4
      Artifact Creature - Golem (C)
      Casting a spell that targets a creature you control is against the law.
      Justice — At the beginning of each upkeep, if an opponent broke the law last turn, Patrol Droid gets +2/+2 until the beginning of your next end step.

    3. Oh right, yes, how did I miss that? Awesome! I like how it makes ueot pump relevant and doesn't muck up combat. I've had Justice in my card files for LoR Azorius for about 1.5 years now. I had all but given up on it. It never occurred to me to use a delayed trigger. You're a genius! I think I'm actually going to make it "Law and Justice" though, but that's another story.

  15. Also, an idea for natural magic:

    Burst Into Flames (Common)
    Enchantment - Aura
    Enchant creature
    At the beginning of each upkeep, Burst Into Flames deals 4 damage to enchanted creature.
    Glamer - 3R, Discard Burst Into Flames: Burst Into Flames deals 4 damage to target creature .

    Natural Aptitude (Uncommon)
    Enchantment - Aura
    Enchant creature
    Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 for each card in your hand.
    Glamer - 1G, Discard Natural Aptitude: Until end of turn, target creature gets +1/+1 for each card in your hand.

  16. Activated abilities matter.

    Aether Canister
    artifact token
    {T}, Sack: Add {1} to your mana pool.

    Natural Pyromancer {1}{R}
    Creature-Wizard (unc)
    {R}, {T}: ~ deals 1 damage to target c/p.

    Magnester {2}{G}
    Creature-Monk (cmn)
    Surge—Whenever you activate a nonland ability, you may pay {1}. If you do, put a +1/+1 counter on ~.

    Spy Maker {2}{U}
    Creature-Artificer (unc)
    Surge—Whenever you activate a nonland ability, you may pay {1}. If you do, put a 1/1 colorless Thopter token w/ flying OTB.

    Consul's Orders {2}{WU}
    Enchantment-Law (rare)
    It's against the law to activate a nonland nonartifact ability.
    Whenever an opponent breaks the law, draw a card.

    Has fundamental issues (most prominently that there's a serious limit to surge design space) but snapshot of something.

    1. Oh hey, I worked on a mechanic like this long ago. I called it Artistry. Over the years, I realized there are two big problems with this mechanic:

      1.) You need enough repeatable activated abilities at common to have the mechanic work, but not enough that the board complexity becomes too much, or the game become oppressive.

      2.) Quite a few new players can't differentiate activated abilities and triggered abilities. Even disregarding that, 'activated ability' is a vocabulary word I don't imagine seeing at common too much.

      I agree that there's potential to this, though, which is why I specifically mentioned activated abilities above.

    2. Batteries would be really interesting alongside Surge, by the way. I just realized the subtle brilliance of that.

    3. "Nonmana ability" might be easier to balance. Er wait, I just realized what you just realized - synergy with batteries.

      It's "subtle genius" btw. Get it right. : )

    4. One reason I went with

      "Justice - Whenever any of your laws are broken, effect."


      "Whenever an opponent breaks the law, effect."

      is because the latter triggers my Justice ability even when Opponent A breaks a law of Opponent B.

    5. What about "Whenever you tap an artifact you control, [Effect]"

      This means we don't have to balance around notap abilities and gives it extra use with artifact creatures. Also it fixes the vocabulary problem that inanimate mentioned.

    6. That seems really nice, reuben. It works really well in both an attacking and controlling ability-based build.

  17. Here's my elevator pitch for Vehicles.

    Vehicle is a new artifact subtype that's similar to Equipment, but uses different mechanical language, and has a distinct design space. A Vehicle can buff more than one creature at a time, and provides a secondary buff whenever it's fully crewed. The threshold effect of the full crew buff is what makes these most unique. Here are some examples.

    Horseless Buggy (COM)
    Artifact - Vehicle
    Horseless Buggy’s operators have haste.
    Full crew — If Horseless Buggy has exactly two or three operators, they have first strike.
    Operate 1 (1: Target creature you control operates this vehicle. Operate only as a sorcery. A creature can’t operate more than one vehicle, but a vehicle can have multiple operators.)

    Road Hopper (COM)
    Artifact - Vehicle
    Road Hopper’s operators get +1/+0.
    Full crew — If Road Hopper has exactly one or two operators, they have menace.
    Operate 2 (2: Target creature you control operates this vehicle. Operate only as a sorcery. A creature can’t operate more than one vehicle, but a vehicle can have multiple operators.)

    Armored Skyship (COM)
    Artifact - Vehicle
    Armored Skyship’s operators have flying.
    Full crew — At the beginning of each combat, if Armored Skyship has exactly three or four operators, they get +1/+1 until end of turn.
    Operate 3 (3: Target creature you control operates this vehicle. Operate only as a sorcery. A creature can’t operate more than one vehicle, but a vehicle can have multiple operators.)

    * Armored Skyship has a Full Crew triggered effect just so creatures don't die to combat damage if the Full Crew effect is turned off after combat.
    * Full crew is a way to keep players from putting all there creatures into one vehicle, without using "crew limit" language. I wanted to avoid using feel bad or drawback language on the cards. This way, a player could pile a bunch of creatures into their Horseless Buggy if they want, but are incentivized to stick to two.
    * I made the Full crew threshold two numbers so that instant speed removal doesn't always ruin things. I could have made it "number or more" but I don't want the design to reward players from overloading creatures into a vehicle. Plus, the target number threshold adds strategy and allows for more powerful secondary effects.

    1. These are really interesting but also texty. Each of these are seven lines of text. Simplifying the reminder text for Operate, along the lines of Equipment, only removes around a line.

      Additionally, it seems odd to me that the keyword Operate is introduced alongside an ability word, Full crew, and the two are inseparable.

    2. Yep on all counts.

      I think the reminder text needs to spell out that a creature can't operate multiple vehicles because we can't use the "attach" language Equipment uses as a shortcut. So while equip say "Attach to target creature" there's no way to flip it. Creatures can't be attached to things. So I used a new word, operate. And once that happens, things need to be spelled out. The first set using vehicles is just going to be wordy. I can live with it.

    3. Nich: The cards themselves don't necessarily have to be wordy. Could we use rules cards to explain Vehicles, rather than having to write out all the conditions in the text?

    4. Reminder text is negotiable, up to templating. I look at Road Hopper and then Cavern Lampad from Theros and think things will be okay even if we have to go with 7 lines of text. Operate N is always the same, so that's a big chunk to be able to learn and then ignore.